Ideologies and Ideas

First of all, I'm very sorry for not posting. I have been busy and stressed the past few weeks - I'm not dead, just up to my eyeballs in work.

My argument is very simple: we need ideas, not ideologies.

I am too sick and too tired to dress this up further, so here I go. Ideologies are sets of ideas - think capitalism, communism, fascism, socialism...I'm sure you can provide me with a plethora of examples, and I don't intend to list them all here. They are pretty comprehensive as sets of ideas go, which is quite advantageous for those who don't want to actually think about what they're doing and also advantageous for the lonely: if you label yourself as something, be it anarchist, libertarian, conservative or whatever, you'll find groups that profess to share your views and feel a bit like you belong.

The trouble is, by being comprehensive ideologies can also be rigid - you have to do this if you profess that ideology. Being comprehensive also isn't good for encouraging people to think, and so ideologies can be dangerous: they can seduce people into accepting something they're uncomfortable with because they like some ideas and don't think there's a framework outside ideologies. Each ideology also tends to promote a view that it's the best way of seeing the world ever and everyone else is varying degrees of wrong, which isn't good for humility or critical thinking - both things we're in short supply of. We destroy our entire world in the name of these ideologies - capitalism in particular is guilty of this - and the saddest thing is they're all wrong.

Yes, you heard me right, ideologues. Your ideologies are all probably wrong. We have been trying and discussing and trying to discuss and trying to implement various ideologies over the ages, and none of them have really worked - well, not the ones we've actually tested. None of them really seem to be the panacea they claim to be. And faced with capitalism killing itself once again and having to deal with the consequences of anthropogenic climate change, I have a feeling that the solutions proposed by dead white cis males (which looked pretty on paper, but turned out to have various problems) aren't going to do the job.

So here's my solution. I don't pretend that it's any better than anyone else's, but I do ask whoever's reading this to hear me out and assess my ideas critically. Instead of working with comprehensive sets of ideas, why not just work with individual ideas and then build a framework around that? Why do we even need to set the framework in stone when we're probably going to be swapping individual ideas around anyway? And why police the ideas of others? If someone else has different ideas it doesn't mean they're not a True Believer in the Cause or something stupid like that, it means they've arrived at a different conclusion. That's it. And as long as the differences aren't too great, that's not a problem. People are different. Deal with it.

If we're going to be working with individual ideas instead of ideologies, there's probably going to be more things to discuss - and this probably calls for a new way of discussing them. Too many times I've seen discussions be very top-down - not really a discussion at all. Instead, a couple of supposedly informed people impart their wisdom to the silent masses. This might be okay if you have a massive inequality in terms of knowledge - for example, it makes sense for a professor to lecture students who know nothing about the subject. However, when it comes to discussing ideas we're all about as knowledgeable and skilled as each other - that is, we're all completely fucked, and not in the good way. It's just that some people have been doing a little more thinking than others. That doesn't mean they're necessarily right. Moreover, when discussions are top-down - in other words, when they're lectures rather than discussions - not everyone goes away learning something, and not everyone goes away being able to do something. If people actually sat down and discussed things, ideas might get combined into new ideas. More people would be getting new insights into things. And it is possible that a large network of equals could do more than the previous system we've had, where far fewer people have influence and far more just do their bidding.